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10 Michigan community colleges worth considering

10 Community Colleges in Michigan

Michigan needs more college graduates, and community colleges may be a major part of that solution. As the state shifts from a manufacturing Mecca to a more technological or service-based economy, demand for college educated workers is expected to grow. Take the Lumina Foundation's 2013 Michigan policy brief, which notes that the educational attainment rate in the state is already below the national average. If Michigan wants to meet increasing demand for educated workers, it must add more than 928,000 additional college graduates to its ranks by 2025. It's a tall order, but not impossible to achieve.

One of the ways to fill that gap, suggests Lumina, is by encouraging Michiganians who have some college, but who have not completed a credential, to go back to school to complete their educations. Encouraging more high school graduates wary of four-year programs to invest in a 2-year degree or professional certificate can help, too. Community colleges in Michigan can deliver on both fronts, offering what can be a high quality, but affordable education for those preparing to succeed in the modern workforce, or those who want to advance to a four-year institution. The following are just 10 community colleges in Michigan (listed alphabetically) that may fit that bill.

10 noteworthy community colleges in Michigan

  1. Alpena Community College (Alpena): Alpena prides itself on its small class sizes, but that does not mean its reach is limited. Not only does ACC offer more than 70 associate degree and certificate programs in fields like business, law enforcement and nursing, but it also maintains transfer agreements with a number of area universities that makes earning a four-year degree less complicated. Students can take advantage of ACC's impressive array of student clubs and organizations -- including the Phi Theta Kappa honor society -- and free access to the Wellness Center and all of its fitness classes and equipment. Can't make it to campus? ACC offers online classes, too. According to College Measures, ACC boasted the second highest combined graduation and transfer rate in the state in 2012, and ranked in the top 10 for first-year retention.
  2. Bay de Noc Community College (Escanaba): Bay de Noc Community College, or Bay Called for short, has established quite a resume: Not only did it have one of the highest first-year retention rates in the state in 2012 (as reported by CollegeMeasures.org), but according to Washington Monthly, ranked among the top 30 community colleges in the nation in 2013. Bay College awards more than 500 degrees and certificates each year in a plethora of disciplines, but what makes separates it from many other Michigan community colleges is its community Its main campus features nature trails, a labyrinth, and even a YMCA that students can access for free, and it remains one of the few community colleges in the state to offer on-campus housing. BC is home to art galleries and the Besse Center Theater, and features annual film, speaker and concert series.

  3. Delta College (University Center): Like many other Michigan community colleges featured on this list, Delta has a reputation for excellence. It was one of the few Michigan community colleges eligible for both the 2011 and 2013 Aspen Prizes for Community College Excellence, and according to College Measures, its impressive 90.3 percent first-year retention rate in 2012 was the highest in the state. DC offers dozens of associate degrees and certificates, plus a number of non-credit "lifelong learning" courses promoting personal enrichment. It also features a number of varsity sports -- like soccer, basketball, volleyball and softball -- and intramural clubs in hockey, golf and even dodgeball. Perhaps one of DC's most notable features is its dedication to helping students succeed both in and out of the classroom. Its Student Food Pantry, for instance, is a college sponsored food bank that ensures all students have access to healthy food -- regardless of their economic situations -- so that they can stay focused on their studies.

  4. Kellogg Community College (Battle Creek): One thing Kellogg Community College students can appreciate: Options. The school offers nearly 100 pre-professional and university transfer programs; about 40 associate degree programs; over 30 certificate programs; and training for student apprenticeships. It's no wonder that according to its official website, KCC serves nearly 15 thousand students each year. Students can participate in a number of student organizations and clubs, an honor program and honor societies. Prominent sports include basketball, softball, volleyball and baseball. KCC students can report to class at one of five campuses, fully online, or via a hybrid of the two. It also offers a number of "Web-enhanced" traditional courses that incorporate online technology in a classroom setting.

  5. Lake Michigan College (Benton Township): Do not let Lake Michigan College's stunning locale and its 50-acre natural area (with a wildlife sanctuary) fool you: It may feel like a vacation destination, but its catalog proves it is all business when it comes to student achievement. Not only can students earn associate degrees and certificates in a number of disciplines, but can also exercise LMC partnerships with schools like Siena Heights University and Western Michigan University, which allow them to earn bachelor's and master's degrees right from the LMC campus. Its campus life is perhaps impressive, too. LMC says it encourages its students to participate in existing clubs and organizations -- like the Sky Diving Club, the Movie Club and the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society -- or create their own. Beginning in 2014, LMC will be one of the few Michigan community colleges to offer on-campus housing.

  6. Macomb Community College (Warren): As with a few other Michigan community colleges featured on this list, Macomb Community College was one of the few institutions eligible for both the 2011 and 2013 Aspen Prizes of Community College Excellence. According to MCC's official website, the institution serves nearly 50 thousand students annually, and consistently ranks in the top two percent of institutions in the nation for number of associate degrees awarded. It is also one of about 150 community colleges in the United States to participate in the Achieve the Dream initiative, which strives to improve student success, especially among low-income or under-prepared students. In addition to its impressive array of associate, certificate and university transfer programs, MCC offers students academic counseling and advising, and career services designed to ease graduates' transition into the workforce.

  7. Mott Community College (Flint): MCC is the only community college in Michigan to be named a finalist for an Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence: It won that nod in 2011, and was eligible again in 2013, the only other year the award has been given. According to the Aspen Institute, recent MCC graduates are employed at high rates and earn more than the regional average -- which is especially impressive given the community's historically high unemployment. One of its keys to success is its unique series accelerated certificate programs in areas like information technology, accounting and electronics, which can help graduates enter the workforce faster, credential in hand. AI reports that Mott also offers an intuitive credit tracking system that automatically notifies students nearing completion which courses they still need, taking the stress out of timely completion. Icing on the cake: According to the professor-rating site RateMyProfessors.org, Mott was home to one of the best loved college professors in the nation in 2013.

  8. Muskegon Community College (Muskegon): One might say that Muskegon Community College offers students an experience as much as an education. Yes, students can earn associate degrees and certificates in fields like health care, business and social science, but they can also join dozens of student organizations and clubs, like the Amateur Film Club, the Gaming Club, the Garden Club and even the Motorsports Club. It also runs the Stevenson Center for Higher Education, which allows Muskegon residents to earn four-year degrees from institutions like Grand Valley State University or Western Michigan University on the MCC campus. Another point of price: The Outdoor Learning Lab, which MCC defines as "a focal point of green technology" and the center of its unique Alternative and Renewable Energy certificate. Notable MCC alumni include award-winning journalist Jesse Bruce, National Wrestling Hall of Fame inductee Chris Taylor and former Minnesota Governor Elmer L. Andersen.

  9. Northwestern Michigan College (Traverse City): If you want a college with natural eye candy, NMC should make your short list. Located in a beautiful resort town -- just minutes away from Lake Michigan -- NMC promises "great views from every window" on campus. Traverse City is known as the "Cherry Capital" of the world and is known for its towering pines, sandy beaches and nature trails. As for NMC, it offers a number of associate degree and certificate programs, but also maintains an affiliation with the nearby University Center that allows students to earn bachelor's and master's degrees. Among the school's most unique programs: Aviation, Freshwater Studies, Maritime Deck or Engineering Office Training. NMC is also home to the Great Lakes Maritime Academy, the only U.S. Maritime Academy on fresh water.

  10. Schoolcraft College (Livonia): Like most colleges, Schoolcraft College aims to help students achieve -- and has the accolades to prove its success. College Measures reports that in 2012, Schoolcraft College boasted the highest overall combined graduation and transfer rate and third highest first-year retention rate in the state; CNN Money, meanwhile, ranked it among the top 50 community colleges in the nation that same year. SC offers associate degrees and certificates in a number of fields, but its culinary arts program -- headed by four certified master chefs -- is perhaps among its best known programs. Students will find a great deal of support, whatever their majors, thanks to programs designed to promote student engagement, family, women and transfer students specifically.

First steps: It starts with you

Community colleges in Michigan have a lot to offer their communities -- but only for those who take the initiative to enroll. We encourage you to contact these and other community colleges directly to learn more about their programs and services.

Sources:

“A Stronger Nation Through Higher Education,” luminafoundation.org, March 2012. http://www.luminafoundation.org/publications/state_data/2012/Michigan-2012.pdf.

“Michigan Public Colleges,” collegemeasures.org, 2013. http://collegemeasures.org/2-year_colleges/state/MI/compare-colleges/strategic-measures/.

2013 Community College Rankings, washingtonmonthly.com, 2013. http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/college_guide/rankings_2013/community_rank.php

“Rate My Professors Top Lists,” ratemyprofessors.com, 2013. http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/toplists/topLists.jsp?list=highestratedprofessors

All information provided through this 10 Community Colleges in Michigan list was compiled as of October, 2013. Certificate, degree and program offerings can and do change. Contact the school site or sites for more current details.